December 15 Illinois History Minute
It’s December 15th, and Illinois Governor Edward Coles was born in Virginia on this day in 1786. Coles was elected Illinois’ second governor in 1822, running on an anti-slavery platform. Two years later, at a constitutional convention called by pro-slavery interests, Coles led a successful effort to keep slavery out of the Illinois constitution.
Pioneer automaker Charles Duryea was born in Canton, Illinois on this day in 1861. He and his brother Frank designed and built some of the first working gasoline-powered cars in America. Charles Duryea built a handful of his gas-powered cars in Peoria and neighboring Peoria Heights in the 1890s. In 1895, a Duryea car won the first auto race in the United States --- finishing a Chicago to Evanston route in about ten hours.